There aren’t too many vegetables, in my opinion, that are more refreshing than a cucumber. We eat cucumbers in some form with dinner at least twice a week, usually in a chopped salad…sometimes grated and mixed in yogurt for a nice raita. Cucumbers pair nicely with the spicy cuisine of Pakistan that we eat so often in our little house.
I love leafing through Indian cook books looking for inspiration. I took out the beautiful cookbook Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid from the library because I had heard such great things about the book. It is loaded with fantastic photography and tempting recipes from the Indian sub-continent. If you never heard of or seen this book and are at all into cooking or learning more about Indian food, then you should track down this book!
A recipe in the book for a spiced cucumber salad immediately jumped out at me as something I had to try. It is a salad made of chopped cucumbers tossed in a spiced mustard oil and yogurt dressing. I altered the recipe to work with the ingredients I had on hand instead of running out and buying some additional spices. The end result is still very impressive.
Spiced Cucumber Salad
(adapted from Mangoes and Curry Leaves)
- 1/2 pound English cucumbers
- 2 Tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard oil
- 1 green chili cut lengthwise
- pinch of cayenne powder
- pinch of tumeric
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
- Cut cucumbers into quarters lengthwise and then cut again into 1.5 inch long pieces.
- Put cucumbers in a strainer/colander in the sink (or over a bowl) and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet, dry roast the sesame seeds until golden.
- In a small bowl, mix sesame seeds, cumin, and yogurt to make paste. Set aside.
- Rinse cucumbers with cold water. Squeeze them gently to get out any excess water. Put cucumbers in a bowl.
- Add spice paste to cucumbers and rub all over to coat them. Set aside.
- Heat mustard oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the green chili and cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Add the cayenne and tumeric and stir.
- Pour the flavored oil over the cucumbers and toss gently.
- Add the lemon juice and toss.
- Set aside for 10-20 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Just before serving add the cilantro leaves and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss gently to mix.
I am always on the lookout for tasty salads to serve alongside our meals. We eat a lot of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern fare, so when I spotted a recipe on Epicurious for a Greek salad with orzo, I had to try it out.
Technically, this salad is not a true “Greek Salad” since authentic Greek salads don’t contain lettuce or vinegar. But, this is definitely a tasty spin on a Greek salad. So, if you are having a Greek Salad purist over for dinner, you may want to call this something else…how about Mediterranean Orzo Salad??
I altered this recipe from one on Epicurious.com since theirs actually had you assemble the recipe in mason jars. I didn’t see the point of me making it in mason jars just to dump it out immediately onto the plate… The salad is fairly simple to make and looks so colorful on the dinner table.
My husband really enjoys this salad but ends up pushing most of the orzo to the side of his plate, since he is not a big orzo fan (what is there NOT to like about orzo???…odd duck).
This recipe makes enough to serve 4 as a main course or a crowd as a side dish.
Greek Orzo Salad
- 3/4 cup orzo
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
- 2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
- 1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
- 4 to 8 peperoncini
- Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.
- Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
- Combine orzo mixture and black-eyed pea mixture in a large bowl
- Make a bed of romaine lettuce on a serving plate. Spoon the orzo-black-eyed pea mixture on top of lettuce. Top with feta crumbles and peperoncini.
Another delayed posting. Le sigh.
I made this pasta salad for a Labor Day cookout. It turned about to be the cookout of a million pasta salads. Maybe that is a slight exageration…there were maybe 6 pasta salads there…but that is out of a total of 8 side dishes. We should have changed the party to a Pasta Salad “cook”-off. May the best pasta salad win! I like to think that this one could’ve been a contender.
Loaded Italian Pasta Salad
(altered from recipe in Betty Crocker Summer recipe book)
- 12 oz rainbow rotini, cooked
- 8 oz marinated artichoke hearts, drained and marinade reserved
- 8 oz mozzarella, diced
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 large red onion, diced
- 6 radishes, sliced thinly
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 1/3 cup diced green onion (green parts only)
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
- 1/4 cup marinade from the artichoke hearts
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to evenly distribute.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss again. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving
Yes…here is another recipe that I made months and months ago…when asparagus was in season. Sometimes I can be a bit slow with the posting. If you could see the folder on my laptop of not yet posted food pictures you would see exactly how far behind I am.
But…anyhow… on to the salad.
This recipe caught my eye in an issue of Taste of Home magazine. Just like the Summer Sesame Salad I made from the same magazine, I found that this recipe had a tad too much dressing. (at least for my taste) Perhaps Taste of Home likes salad dressing a wee bit more than Taste of Mango does. 🙂
This is the perfect salad to serve with grilled chicken at your summer cookout. (it’s almost summer somewhere, right???)
Asparagus Mozzarella Salad
(from Taste of Home magazine)
- 2 lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 2 cups grape tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cheese, tomatoes, onion, and basil.
- In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, mustard, and pepper. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Chill until serving.
I first made this salad for my cooking club a few years ago. It is super simple and was a big hit at the cooking club so I’ve kept it in my salad repertoire. I frequently make it as a side dish with grilled chicken or with fajitas or quesadillas.
If you keep your pantry stocked with canned black beans and hearts of palm and keep a bag of frozen corn in your freezer…you are a good part of the way to whipping up this salad on a whim.
Black Bean, Corn & Hearts of Palm Salad
(from Bon Apetit magazine)
- 1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
- 1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
- 1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
So….I did actually make this salad in the summer, but I have been a little slow about posting about it. Having a baby will do that to you– you just don’t have as much time to post on your blog anymore.
I found this recipe for a sesame summer salad in a Taste of Home magazine. I love sesame seeds and sesame oil so I had to try out this salad. The salad came together pretty easily. However, I found that the recipe had too much dressing…so in my write up below I changed the instructions to only add 1/2 the dressing to the salad and then serve the rest alongside so that your dining companions can dress the salad to their taste.
Sesame Summer Salad
(from Taste of Home magazine)
makes 9 servings
- 3 large carrots
- 2 cups cut fresh asparagus (1 inch pieces)
- 2 cups fresh snow peas
- 1 package (3 oz.) ramen noodles
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 can (14 oz) bean sprouts, drained
- 1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, divided
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Using a vegetable peeler or metal cheese grater, cut carrots into very thin lengthwise strips. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add the carrots, asparagus, and snow peas; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place vegetables in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Set aside 3/4 cup carrots for garnish.
- Discard seasoning packet from noodles or save for another use. Break noodles into small pieces. Place in a large serving bowl; add blanched vegetables, red pepper, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk the hoisin sauce, vinegar, canola oil, sesame oil, honey, salt, pepper flakes, and pepper. Pour 1/2 of dressing over salad; toss to coat. Add more dressing if desired and toss to coat (and/or serve some on the side).
- Garnish with reserved carrots and remaining sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Guess What? Mango time! I saw this salad in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and couldn’t resist. It seemed like a perfect, simple (yet different) and refreshing salad. The salad was everything I had hoped it would be and made the perfect accompaniment for our seafood dinner. The mister showed the salad to his sister on Skype and also told me “you can definitely make this again!”. I guess he liked it. 😉
Mango and Radish Salad with Lime Dressing
(from Martha Stewart Living May 2010)
- 1 mango, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1/2 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch radishes (about 8), halved or quartered
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Coarse Salt
- Arrange mango, cucumber, and radishes on a platter.
- Whisk together lime zest and juice, oil and honey. Season with salt.
- Drizzle dressing over salad, and season with salt.